TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 17: A photo of slain shooting victim Christina Taylor-Green lies amidst notes and momentos left at a makeshift memorial at the University Medical Center on January 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. More than a week after a gunman killed six people and wounded more than a dozen more in a shooting rampage, hundreds of Tucson residents continue to visit the memorial daily to pay their respects and express their grief. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in serious condition inside the hospital. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The mass shooting in Tucson is being blamed in part for a judicial emergency declared Tuesday in the Bay Area.
The court said the rare emergency was needed because of a heavy caseload, judicial vacancies and the death of Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll.
Roll was one of six people killed in the shooting that left Rep. Gabrille Giffords critically injured. A gunman opened fire on the group that had gathered for a "Congress on the Corner" event.
Now courts can extend the U.S. Speedy Trial Act deadlines for bringing criminal defendants to trial, which extends the time line from 70 to 180 days.
Bay City News reported that the federal district of Arizona has the third-highest criminal caseload in the nation, primarily driven by illegal immigration and drug smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of those cases were handled in the court's Tucson division. The death of Roll leaves only three judges who each have a docket of 1,200 cases.
Judge Roll had worked with Giffords in urging Congress to authorize more judges prior to his death. He had also started the steps to set the emergency declaration in motion.
Chief 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski said Tuesday that he hopes the declaration will prompt action by Congress to establish more judgeships. "The District Court in Arizona urgently needs additional resources," Kozinski said.